Poetry: On Being a Veteran

I chose to go into the Air Force,
twice,
and to stay long enough
to eventually be told,
“your service is no longer required.”
So, with that, I promptly retired.

I joined up. Some call it served.
I’ve never been thanked for joining,
only for service,
a word with twenty meanings
as a noun,
five as a verb, and five more
as an adjective, where I fit in;
but not in the three more legal terms
nor most of the twelve listed
as kids definitions.

My service included my promise
to kill millions of them
should they undertake
to kill millions of us, as we
would both destroy more than
half the planet in the process
of a world-wide Armageddon.

My service was learning
how to do that and fully
intending to do exactly that!

It was my sworn duty to protect
and defend the Constitution, and,
as I understand it, still is because
I have not been released from
that oath, and, technically,
I’m still on the payroll.

I struggle even today with
being anti-war, but if
there is one,
I’d rather not miss it.
If a deed needs to be
done to protect and defend,
and if I’m still able, let me
stand in line to join up again,
with others, willing to kill
and maybe to die for
some vague idea which
so few of us seem
to correctly understand.

Don’t thank me
for my service,
or for your freedom,
or for any sacrifice
by my family or me.

Thank the Constitution
for that. Or, better yet,
if you can do for your
country, which is the idea,
join up in a way
that suits your person
and your conscience.

As I watch the guards, I notice they march both ways.
There are no gaps.

Poetry: The Young Turks: Wisdom of Frogs and Toads

When I ran with the dogs,
with the whippets and hounds, but mostly
with many young mongrels,

Confident advice flowed with barking
ignorance as Young Turk wisdom without
benefit of time or trial.

All things were defined by toads little wiser
or experienced than were we pups, with
foibles and foolishness all their own.

Success and failure were measured by the ignorance
of prediction rather than outcome, by dreams
over reality, by desires above experience.

Dead war dog stories try telling us
that neither happiness nor success
bother to dress up in frogskins.

Shine your light when you look both ways.
Mind and mine deeply gaps of the past
filled with learned experience.

Poetry: Cut Throat

After being an Air Force officer for several years,
after being an enlisted dude for four years, and after
the oddly trainee controlled officer
training school, then flight training,
survival training, combat crew training
and many other experiences
that I have long since forgotten,

I was assigned to the Training Command
as a flight training instructor and commander.

An old instructor of mine was still there,
but he had been away to USC
to get his PhD.

He described command
flight training as a thousand officers
standing knee-deep in chicken shit,
stabbing each other in the back.

I found that description to be
remarkably accurate.

Look both ways in competitive careers.
Mind the gaps and where you step – and check six!
(motherfucker)

Sammies Weekend Writing Prompt 122 — Museum

Monet at Kimbell

Not a big fan of Claude,
I wanted the experience
of seeing his original later work
at the Kimbell Art Museum
in Fort Worth.

In Cow Town, I ran
marathons and we danced
at Billy Bob’s near the stockyards,
and went to see Elvis, Marty Robbins,
and two of our three were born there.

A shining light of cowboy culture,
the Kimbell is one of many
attempts to not be Dallas.
DF dubya is nearby and
Cowboys play football in Arlington,

where the Rangers play baseball
and Six Flags (over Texas)
amusement park resides.
But what is most important
is not the museum or foot races,
not the water garden or train station,

what matters most to me about Cow Town
are the memories. The comrades, the friends,
the scandals and the hanky-panky,
the music (up against the wall, redneck mother)
Oh Lord, I knew it all so well.

But gunna miss the Monet.

Look both ways between Dallas and Fort Worth (I love you).
Mind the endless gaps in between.

Poetry: Kitchen Visits

Growing up, it was foreign land—
to me, yet, it was favored by all,
a magic kingdom of food and warmth,
a homework headquarters.

It had a coal stove for heat and
cooking. Mom (sometimes Dad) did laundry
there with a wringer machine filled and emptied by hose,
when new to the tribe, I was bathed in that sink,
perhaps after laundry and dishes were done.

Later in life it was (and still is) wife’s land.
Maybe it’s sexist, but barefoot in
the kitchen was her idea.
Actually, it was all her house
where we all lived. At home,
it was where the core of many lives
transpired—in the kitchen.
Meetings, parties, family dinners,
games and puzzles, some business.
It was our mother-ship’s headquarters.

When between jobs, I was given
the helm of house to navigate;
cooking, cleaning, laundry,
paying bills, and giving some homework
help. Dropping off, picking up,
taking to kid’s thingies. For a dad,
I believe I made a passable mom.

But the jury remains out.
Now those kids are gone
to their own kitchens,
it’s still the same in our lovely
(if mostly empty) nest. It’s her kitchen,
somewhere in the middle of
Texas. I don’t really
cook but would like to. I am the
dish washer, maybe replaced now
by a newer and quieter, a younger one
with fingerprint proof silver skin.

No man has ever been murdered
while doing the dishes.
Perhaps I
should be worried and observant,
or apply for the position of official
dishwasher loader and unloader.

It’s not my kitchen and it never will be.
Perhaps the laundry room?
Household poet laureate is a good job,
I eat well, and the beer is cold.

Look both ways, near and far.
There will always be gaps, in love and lust,
but in the kitchen, it’s Mom we trust.

Poetry: A Friendly Jab

On break, having coffee,
at a walk-to place from work.
Age came up.

Larry could always make me laugh,
a raised brow or expression,
his subtlety with humor,
the ability to play it straight
with a sincerity of stupidity.

We volunteered numbers,
all 40-somethings.
Larry looked serious.
“I just have one question.”

He’d set the bait. I knew better,
but one must play along.
I took the hook,
lest all fun be spoiled.
He looked straight at me,
and patiently awaited my response.

He was from the Buckeye State.
We met as underage roommates.
Both junior Air Force enlisted. Later
each married Texas gals
both opted for university:
Larry to UT, I to A&M.

As roommates, Larry thought me loud,
badly behaved, and unworthy of him.
He was classical. I was rock ‘n roll.
Incompatible, but no harm done.

Twenty years later
while wrapping up military careers
as Air Force officers,
he was a chopper pilot who served in Nam,
I was a B-52 crew dog.

When our paths again crossed,
we were distant friends, no more.

I asked, what’s your question, Colonel?
He asked, “If you are younger than I am, why
do you look so much older?”

I’m older than Larry now.
Rest in peace, my funny friend.

©Bill Reynolds

Look both ways. Mind the gaps.
All the best stories are past, or soon will be.
Remember.

Poetry: It’s Not For Everybody. Is it?

I almost never wanted this – to be a writer,
but I write, I drink too,
seldom too much
anymore.

That’s not discipline or pride,
it’s from bein’ too fuckin’ old.
Thinking of words, I write them and then
I point, and I say, “Hey look, I’m a writer.”

Quite certain that of the many who
thought they had taught me English
as an academic subject, who gave me
perhaps deserved grades without motive
with one exception, may groan in their graves.

A good man, Thornton looked at me, “Why
are you even here?” I think he knew.

School was mostly bull shit. I learned little,
but it was still involuntary servitude crap
I never wanted to do again. Not like that.
Even college.

Today, I might not kill them,
but they might think I would. Back then,
I thought I needed them. Now I know.
One or two might scare a bit. Maybe.

A few. Very few. Assholes are not
educated out of it. But I write.
Look at me.

I think I always liked it (writing that is),
but nobody ever (till years later)
said that I was good at it. Maybe Thornton
hinted. Even Miff W. said, “You know,
college is not for everybody.”

Maybe not Miffy baby, but it was for me.
Surprised? Don’t be. You motivated me.

Look both ways, maybe with some bitterness and sarcasm.
Find motivation in the gaps.